Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski

(1550 - 1581 / Poland)

Biography of Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski

Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski (1550-1581) was a Polish religious poet remembered for writing metaphysical sonnets with inverted word orders.

A forerunner of Baroque poetry, he wrote predominantly religious poetry akin to that of the English Metaphysical poets. In this period satire and pastoral were the most popular forms.

Szarzynski was a full-fledged baroque poet avant la lettre. His only collection, Rytmy albo wiersze polskie (Polish Rhythms or Verses; publicated posthumously in 1601), has been rediscovered only in recent decades, after centuries of oblivion.

Szarzynski did not write much, but what he wrote reveals an extraordinary personality, a profoundly metaphysical poet. In particular, a handful of his religious sonnets, in which tortuous syntax, violent enjambment, and oxymoronic imagery portray a mind torn asunder by spiritual torment, bear comparison with the best of John Donne or George Herbert.

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Fortune's Statue

She's mistress of all:
Rule of this earth
To her is entrusted;
Fortune she's called.
But for her, Maia's son, whom
She grants gifts, be naught.
Man, living for gain,
Mars, fast to shed blood,
Stand both in her hand.

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